Bad Reviews- In My View They Ain’t So Bad! #MFRW

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So it’s Monday and like clockwork I woke up at 7.00a.m after snoozing the alarm a few times, with a list as long as my arm, with things I want to complete today, in order to have a productive writing day. For one we’re one week into National Novel Writing Month, I’m participating this year, while I have 20,000 words down I’m still not quite happy with all of it, I have emails to respond to, one half of a story for The Suspenseful Collection #2 to write…. before tomorrow!  And let’s not forget the ‘day job writing’ also… I’m a translator by day!

Waking up to this list,  I knew today would be busy, right on cue my five year old son moseys into my room, jumps under the covers…”mama, I’m sick.” I sigh, roll my eyes, peel his warm five year old body off me and look him in the eye, then ask what’s wrong? He  holds his legs in the air like a tent under the covers. When he was born he had complications with his legs, now it’s fine but  I take his complaints seriously. I roll over thinking ” no school looks like today’s a sick day then, some much for productivity.”

It’s lunch time, what is he doing as I write this writing response?  Dancing and singing (rather loudly) to the Lion King movie, before that it was Frozen the movie. What else has he done today, given me firm instructions to leave my desk, to play kick the ball in the garden , attacked the washing line then ran around the house with my bra on his head, pretending he’s a “pirate of the Caribbean.” Clearly, there is nothing wrong with the little shit, boy… whoops sorry. He just fancies a day off to watch Disney all day, and disrupt his mama!

So I may as well do a writing prompt as it’s clear I won’t get to focus on any manuscripts until this evening after bed time…. sighs #shoutoutallparents.

 Bad Reviews, How They Can Help?

So bad reviews? The question  and writing prompt this week is how to overcome them. In all honesty, I don’t think bad reviews are really that bad as you grow as a writer. You soon learn that you can’t, should not try to, and DO NOT EVER want to try to write to please everyone, it’s impossible. If you do that, you’ll lose who you are as a writer,why YOU WRITE and you’ll have no idea of who you actually please- your target market and actually create sales, and a readership.

I also say this as I personally feel as a writer you get to a point where a bad review, you realise does so much more than make you feel bad if you have done the best you can on your work. 1. a review is a review whether good or bad, and sometimes the odd 1 star or someone not feelin’ your work shows a genuine picture or balanced picture. 2. a bad review can cause other people to pick up your book, out of curiosity anyway. How many times have you read reviews on somethings you wish to purchase, or a new product you wish to try and noticed the odd bad one or less positive review but decided ‘I think I want to give this a try, and see for myself.’ 3. it can also allow you to see what someone did not enjoy, genuinely as  long as they are not just on a bitchfest for no good reason.

So… how could you overcome a bad review?

I feel there  is the difference between a ‘moaning’ review and a genuine less positive review that’s more like ‘ this is critique that’s useful.’ I also feel it’s our job as a writer to weed out the two. If you can do this, that’s half the job of ‘overcoming’ a bad review. If the person is just going on, and on, and on, and on about why they hated your work with no real depth to it just…. just “hatin”’ on your work, disregard it and see that they are ‘moaning’. Instead pay attention to those who seem to be more realistic in their less positive review, and see what’s of use for you to know. Even then, take what’s helpful and leave the rest and focus on writing the next book.

Lastly, try  recognise if you have just sadly attracted the ‘wrong reader’ I hate to say this, sometimes it happens. It has happened to me, and I have also been the wrong type of reader for other books. This is when the book calls you,  the cover, blurb, genre whatever…you dive in and the connection is not there. If you can recognise within less positive reviews if this is ‘the wrong kind of reader, not someone you’d hope to attract or genuinely  a target reader’ for your work, this helps you to overcome bad reviews also. It is also helpful to define for  yourself as a writer who is, potentially could be, and definitely is not a target reader for you. Within the less positive reviews.

This is my honest approach to this subject that so many of us writers lose sleep over… a bad review pifff… I don’t allow it to bug me out so much these days. I take what I need and leave the rest, and know that it’s impossible to please all, and I would not ever want to, how the hell do I stand out if I do that?

Take what’s helpful, leave the rest. Just like when your work is rejected by a publisher, or an agent or an editor requests your work …but asks you to make what you would call major changes….that you’re not really feeling. Leave it if it does not help or changes your work too much in your view in a way you’d not really want it to. There will be someone out there that will say ‘yes, gimmie that’ as it is, you just have to find them.

Lastly, don’t ever lose your confidence over a bad review, once you develop that thick skin, this is impossible to happen anyway. But on the way to getting to this place of thick skinned and unflappable, don’t beat yourself up if someone did not connect, as remember you write for those that do connect.

 

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Prologues: Love Or Hate?…It’s A Game Changer! #MFRW

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Interesting writing prompt for this week’s blog challenge, a really relevant one for me. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly become a better writer than I already am,  (just kiddin’ 🙂 ),  I discovered the beauty of a prologue (not kiddin’ about that), and highly recommend using them to writers who have not tried it. (Not kiddin’ about that either).

Seriously, though… prologues?… no. Up until recently, I never used one in any of  my works, not in the true sense of one. Then I did in my last novel I finished this month, from the experience I realised  it’s a game changer for the story, reader and me as a writer…. yes, it improved all three elements of the latter.

When I  published the first book I ever completed, the  publisher at the time really encouraged prologues in books, but what I have learned since then is that how they encouraged their use, was not really a prologue in its true form. It was more like a copy and paste of an existing part of the book, to ‘grab the reader’ , I was told at the time. So I went with it, it really made no difference to me,  the story I don’t think or even the reader. As they re-read the same thing  later in the book. From research, from what I understand and correct me if I’m wrong, a prologue is an introduction or scene setting and not something that appears again later down the line.

In my most recent works Sacrifices a romantic suspense, with a hint of history to it, once it went through a round of editing, my editor pointed out ‘Kim, this really needs something here.’ I walked away like ‘hmm, okay so I need to add a new scene to ‘introduce’ the story.’ This is largely as, if you have seen the film Pulp Fiction, I have ‘stolen’   ‘been inspired’ the talented movie director Quentin Tarantino’s, excellent story telling technique. I  start my story twenty-five years ago, but not twenty-five years ago from the present day…from the 1960s! Which makes the opening scene the mid- late 1980s…then tell the story ‘back to front’ if you like, to end up in the present day, while moving through different points and key events from 1960s- 1980s in different countries,  and then the present day!

 

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I know I’m nuts, right!? Imagine how much fact checking and challenge it was, to give birth to a story like that. Thankfully, and very proudly it works, it came together finally. So anyway, once I got that feedback I reflected, then decided  I do need a prologue in the present day, before we head back and move forward. I really researched into what the general feel is on prologues, and the use of them as I never worked with one, or used one before properly. I’ve simply never needed to.  A lot of what I read, stated that ‘you should be able to tell the story without a prologue or a epilogue.’ I reflected, I saw this point of view and understood it, as that’s how felt before, I wrote Sacrifices.  

I also read a lot of articles that advised romance writers to ‘stay away from them’! One very popular romance author wrote a very interesting article advocating using one, also stating that in her experience ‘readers loved them’, especially epilogues. Yes…I used an epilogue also, but this was already there due to the nature of the story, and ending.

So in all honesty, I believe that as a writer, experimenting with a prologue has actually made me a bit of a stronger writer. It feel it has also added an extra layer of ‘wow, that’s a cool story, and not a rehash of current romance themes’ to my current work. I also feel that readers will be able to keep up with the pace, and connect with the story, due to the technique I used to write it with the addition of the prologue.

Now, I’m a strong supporter from this experience, and I’ve learned what a true prologue is, not a copy and past to ‘grab someone’. It’s a whole new scene, setting, part of the story or peel of the onion to unwrap, to draw a reader in. It’s also very very helpful when writing from a historical perspective, where you are not always in the present day.

Yeah…I think I’ve convinced myself that I am a prologue lover, as well as a epilogue lover and I would do it all over again, if the story called for it with no hesitation. I’m always one to happily break rules to…so as a romance writer, I won’t ‘stay away’ from them as generally in the genre it’s not something that is used often or supported, so they say. I’ll do what the story is calling me to, and allow myself to become better and write stronger stories by not being bound to rules! So in response to this week’s writing prompt for romance writers ‘ prologues helpful, or hurtful?‘…. Helpful 100%.  I recommend you all do too, look at your last or current works, regardless of what you write or your genre. Do you need a prologue, what about an epilogue? It might just help, and change the game.

Romance Writer’s Blogging Challenge Wk #28: Life Lessons In My Books #MFRW #amwriting

I’m late again, damn-it but I’ve arrived! This week romance writers were asked, to talk a bit about the lessons within their stories. Hmm, let’s see well quite a lot are in mine! I like to write about life dilemmas and real issues within romance. When it comes to crime and thriller, I try to have this spin on it too.

Here’s a lovely four star review I received this week, with feedback on this very subject. Thank you reader. Your feedback let’s me know I got it right… I wrote it right.

havana Heat

This is an interesting story because it shows the problems of trying to find love when previous relationships always rear their ugly head and seem to spoil what could be promising new beginnings. The couple in this story have to face just such problems before they can try to get together. I enjoyed the authors take on this dilemma and how she dealt with it. This is a really good beginning to a series.

So what are your messages and lessons Kim?

Well, I always touch on real life issues no matter what I’m writing. Be it a heart felt romance or a gritty bit of crime/thriller/suspense. Here’s a quick break down of what I was thinking when I wrote these stories.

A Stranger in France: This story touches on many things, jealousy, emotional abuse, life changing decisions a woman can make, and survival. All wrapped up around loooooove. The life lesson I guess in this story is that relationships are about give and take, and should never be one sided. Love can be found in the most random places, at the most unexpected time. When we find it, go with it.

 

Not Just For Christmas: Aww I loved writing this novella. It’s such a realistic story-line it could happen in real life. How far would a person go to find love? Many use online dating. This is online dating with a cute twist. The message in this story I guess is to take a leap of faith, sometimes when things don’t work out it happens for a reason. If you find something that could be worth a try, give it a go. A leopard can change its spots.

Havana Heat: This books is steamy. 🙂 But like the reader who left me that review said, Sometimes the past needs to be buried fully before we can move forward. If not you may miss that second chance love. I loved writing this novella too.

Lover’s Retreat: This is a lil’ steamy too. 🙂 Well, this one is all about personal growth. Sometimes we need to make a journey in life, that we may not know we have to make to be a better person. Once we make it we always end up in a better place. No matter how shit we feel at the time, while making the journey to self discovery. Also, we must love ourselves before we can love others.

The Suspenseful Collection: Volume One (with Didi Oviatt): Ha!! This anthology I loved writing every second of with her. It started out as nothing more than writing buddy challenges. It went well! It’s like we morhpe into each other, and create one great story it’s so scary when I read them back!! … And yes if you’re wondering we will be returning to the weekly writing challenges, and engaging with you all at the end of July.  In this anthology of tales there are a lot of strong women, quite vivid male characters too. We have some crazy ones, a bad boy, a love able mature Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome.  I guess the message in this anthology, is really about taking  readers on a journey. Placing readers in the character’s shoes whether they are sane… or not so sane in some stories.

Overall, I’d say my stories are always based on some kind of realism or life situation. I like to give my character’s issues, good and bad, make them grew and turn out better people. After all, that’s what we all want as people right? To be the best we can be.

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Romance Writer’s Blogging Challenge wk# 25: What’s On Kim’s Must Read List & Kindle #MFRW #amreading

I ask myself week after week if I will ever be on time with this challenge? I think the answer is NO. But better late than never. So this week, romance writers are asked what we like to read. What a GREAT topic.

Before I became a writer, if I can call myself that now, with four books under my belt and number five and six dropping in July! I ran a book club here in London for about almost five years. It was a book club for women only. The feel of the club was that it’s our space, our time and place to forget the kids, husbands, work, bills to be paid, and the endless to do list we have as busy working mums, career girls, or stay at home mums. When I set up the club online I wanted to attract women from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds. And that I did! I surprised myself it grew to well over one hundred members. All I wanted was a get away once a month, and to speak to people who loved to read as much as me. I never imagined it would last almost five years and beyond if I  stayed. Not all one hundred members attended each month, but turn out was good and it’s how I met my good friend and now editor. About twenty or so of us each month met up, after we read a choice of two books per month. We met in one of London’s famous book stores in central London, on a Saturday afternoon. Drank wine, talked about books, had lunch and gossiped the afternoon away. It was A LOT of fun. I met some really lovely friends. I only gave up running the club as I scored my first publishing deal, and found it hard to read, meet deadlines with writing, juggle a family as I became a mum and work. I miss it with all my heart. I remember when I was heavily pregnant I’d still fit my fat ass on the bus, and waddle up to the book store in crowded and busy central London protecting my bump, every month. Or I’d talk to the girls and participate via loud speaker on the phone, if I could not make it. Sometimes I feel like starting it all over again.

When it comes to reading, I read a lot and like to read believe it or not genres I don’t write and can’t write. Even if I tried I could not craft a paranormal or sci-fi book. I just don’t have the creativity in that respect. But I love to read it! I also love to read historical fiction. I can turn my hand to a bit of this as a writer. I also love of course romance, suspense, thriller and a good dose of crime fiction. Also urban romance or African – American fiction.

I like books that push boundaries, and I also really love first person story telling, especially in thriller and suspense. Some call this “amateur writing” whatever! It’s not easy to be consistent with it. I like to get up close, and be right next to characters even bad guys. I wrote a blog post on one of my favourite books that inspired me as a writer with this style. It’s Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Gillian writes first person so so well. I wrote this well over a year ago I think, you can see it here.

Here is a list of my favourite books

  1. Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn
  2. A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khalid Hossani – I read this while in hospital during the birth of my son. I finished it during my labour and stay in the maternity ward. Such a wonderful book.
  3. Americanahh- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – now this lady writes it how she likes it! And she really is herself one of the things I love about her.
  4. Purple Hibiscus- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie .
  5. Half a Yellow Sun-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
  6. Deadly Embrace- Jackie Collins- my inspiration to write my first romantic suspense! Wonderful writer.
  7. Faceless- Martina Cole- great British crime writer, I buy her books whenever she releases them.
  8. Me Before You- Jo Jo Moyes- I’ve read a lot of her books always enjoy them.
  9. Necessary Lies- Diane Chamberlain- Wonderful writer I’ve read a lot of hers.
  10. The Coldest Winter- Sista Souljah- A classic African American story.
  11. Midnight- Sista Souljah- A great love story between an African American immigrant boy and a Japanese girl.
  12. Memoirs of a Geisha- Arthur Golden what a classic.
  13. Women of the Silk-Gail Tsukiyama – my gosh I have never been so blown away by historical fiction.
  14. Language of Threads- Gail Tsukiyama- the follow up to the book above I loved it.
  15. The Seamstress- Maria Duanas – Fantastic historical fiction. This book highlights the strength of  female character set in the backdrop of war. The story spans across north Africa and Spain. Totally engrossing story but a good 500 pages long.
  16. Fifty Shades of Grey all of them- Yeah I went there. No matter what people say about this author’s “simple writing style” Christen Grey totally does it for me!
  17. Crimson Rooms- Katharine McMahon I read this book YEARS ago, and remember it like I remember my own name. Historical fiction featuring a strong woman trying to solve a “problem” of the era.
  18. Jane Eyre- I love Jane!
  19. To Kill a Mocking Bird- Harper Lee…. Need I say more! It’s a classic. One I will make sure my son (who is only three) reads and understands.
  20.  The Colour Purple- Alice Walker- A classic.

I have many more but these are the first twenty that came into my head, while I wrote this writing prompt. I think I will re-read numbers ten – twelve and the follow up stories. Maybe even number five and twenty again.

Can you list twenty or less of your favourite books at the snap of a finger? Share them with me and leave a comment.I’d like to find new books to read.

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Romance Writers’ Blog Challenge Wk #23: “If I Could Eat One Last Meal” #MFRW

I’m fashionably late and behind again, with the romance writers’ #52 week blogging challenge *sighs*.  But I’ll jump back in on week #23. I adore food, this is probably one area of  life that I’m so versatile, and will try almost anything. My parents originate from the Caribbean, growing up I ate mainly this type of food. I guess even though my mum immigrated here to London years ago, she has never left her roots. Even English dishes she cooks are sprinkled with some kind of Carib twist.

The other day I made this dish,  I was so proud of it (I do love to cook also) I took a snap. It’s Caribbean chicken using my mum’s secret recipe. If I could eat one last meal I think it would be this. Well marinated, slow cooked, chicken, rice and beans with a coconut flavour and of course can’t forget the salad.

When my mum cooks this dish it tastes ten times better than mine, I can never quite get it the same, but mine is still yummy. She also likes to add Plantains to the dish. These are like bananas but not quite, and they are so sweet! You can fry them, boil them and even make crisps or potato chips if you’re from the USA from them. You’ll find them in many hot countries. Sometimes she’ll throw in a lil’ potato salad too.

The Caribbean is such a wonderful part of the world when it comes to food. Food is like a way to celebrate, and to bring people together. Flavour and spice is a big part of the culture. Never boring and never bland. Caribbean food is cooked with love, care and passion. I’ve heard this said about Italian culture and food also.

What’s your favourite dish to eat? Are you adventurous when it comes to food? Are you a great cook? If I came over to your house for dinner, what would you cook for me?

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Romance Writer’s Challenge Week #19: My Kinda Guy! The Ideal Hero #MFRW #romance

It’s week nineteen of the Romance Writer’s Blogging Challenge, what a great week.  I’ve  had many book boyfriends over the years, I’ve been a romance lover for well over ten years of my life, that’s a lot of men. As a reader I like my men just how I write ’em, stylish, strong, smelling good and powerful in more ways than with just their wallet *haha*. Make of that last part what you will!

And no, they don’t always have to be the stereotypical Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome. They can be Mr. Tall, Blond and Handsome for all I care…  Christen Grey sure did it for me. For me it’s more about the man he is when I’m reading romance stories. Good looks is a given, but it’s nice when I read the work of another romance author or any author for that matter, and I’m swooning and giggling that high pitched girly giggle I get over their main man –because of who he is.

I’ve had readers feedback that my character I created in A Stranger in France is “Every woman’s dream”  I’ve heard this more than once. This makes me feel GOOD, I created a nice swoon worthy man. Here’s the secret when I created Nicholas I kinda created my own ideal dream man in real life. Nicholas is handsome, check, financially stable, check, but as a man he is hardworking, respectful to women, down to earth and a modern man. He is relevant to today in terms of his dress sense, views etc he’s not dated. With dated views or expectations of women. Blah! I’ll bin those types of men.

I think the ideal romance hero should have all the boxes ticked visually regardless of his race, but that extra emphasis on his personality I think, as a writer helps  us to not re-write the same type of hero. When I wrote both of my detectives, Jerome Samuels for Not Just For Christmas , my main man in One Night in London the short story collaboration with twelve other authors for Code Red: A Serial Novel and the most recent Sebastian Garcia for Havana Heat I maintained  all the basics for my Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome. But they are very different men to Nicholas D’Coix. Age for one, Jerome is a man of a mature age over ten years older than me, with that sexy “mature man’s” persona about him umm humm. Believe it or not he actually starts off as a complete ass LOL my heroine really dislikes him, due to his arrogance regardless of how visually appealing he is. Sebastian is my hot blooded Spaniard with a good heart, but he has “issues” as a man not related to arrogance. My main man in Code Red: A Serial Novel is your average everyday accountant in his thirties.

So in a nutshell I think in my humble opinion, and  based on my own writing style and how I like my men my ideal romance hero is :

  • Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome/ Mr Tall Blond and Handsome- visually he is a knock out regardless of his race.
  • Dare I say it- GOOD IN BED this is a must. I need to read those pages and be like fwwaaaah wow!  This author did a good job setting the bar.
  • Powerful in some way, it could be due to his profession or something about him. There needs to be something about him that draws the female in big time.
  • Stylish (this is just my personal preference as that’s how I write ’em). I like stylish men.
  • He can be arrogant, or a  bad boy they don’t always have to be angles. But he has to grow as a man in the story, so that we readers swoon toward the end  when the dust settles. Personally as a writer this is my style  and I love it as a reader.
  • Not afraid to fight for his woman, this is the major for me. That’s how I write ’em that’s how I like to read ’em. As arrogant as  they are as a man ( maybe), at the end of the day when all the suspense and heat is built in the story- does he fight? … yes please let’s all swoon over this scene.
  • Not, I repeate not dated in anyway shape or form. I really dislike this. That said I am in my mid thirties, and I guess the men I’d swoon over probably would not be dated in my age bracket. It’s helpful if the men are relevant and current. Same with the females. Regardless of their ages. Unless it’s a historical romance of course, that’s another story, different or more time relevant ways of “courting” are to be expected. In a modern day romance keep it current.

I ‘ll never get bored of creating romance heroes, I can’t wait to see who is the most popular with readers from all  the heroes I create. I plan to keep them all different but the basics in tact. All ages, races, professions there is no discrimination here. Deep down I have a feeling it will always be my very own ideal man, one of Paris’ top three entrepreneurs Mr. Nicholas D’Coix.  He makes me smile. I’d love to look back on this post in say maybe three to five years and see if I still feel the same. Who knows?

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